10 Scientifically Proven Habits to Boost Health in 30 Days or Less
Unlock a healthier you in just a month.
Healthy living is a marathon, not a sprint. But sometimes, we make it harder than it needs to be. It doesn't take a ton of painful effort—or months of a radical lifestyle makeover—to seriously improve your health. Simple lifestyle changes amounting to just minutes a week can make a huge difference in how you look and feel. These are ten scientifically proven habits that can transform your health in 30 days or less.
"If you're going to pick up one healthy habit for 30 days, my best advice is to start taking regular walks," says Caroline Grainger, an ISSA-certified personal trainer at FitnessTrainer.com. "Even 20 or 30 minutes of walking at a steady pace, if you do it every day, can lead to serious improvements in your cardiovascular health, metabolism, mood, and energy levels. This is not only because of the exercise itself, but also from getting outside and spending time in nature or around people while you're doing it."
"Getting six to eight hours of sleep every night, especially at the same time each night, is associated with all kinds of positive health benefits including improved mood, cognition, and energy levels, as well as lower long-term disease risks," says Catherine Rall, a registered dietitian with Happy V. "The key here is to get up at the same time every single day–even on the weekends. If you can keep that part of the habit, going to bed tends to take care of itself."
"A few studies have shown that 30 minutes of laughing once a week for about a month can improve your overall well-being, even if you're not experiencing regular joy and happiness," said Dr. Jonathan Fisher, a cardiologist with Novant Health Heart & Vascular Institute in Huntersville, North Carolina. "It's just the practice; it releases chemicals into your blood—serotonin, which is the happy hormone, and dopamine, which is the excitement hormone. When you laugh, you activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which has a calming effect. And very interestingly, laughter affects our immune system."
"Fiber intake can improve health in 30 days or less by supporting natural detox and nutrient absorption," says Emily Maus, RD, founder of Live Well Dietitian. "I recommend adding in extra vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains to increase fiber content. Evidence shows that a diet with adequate fiber can reduce the likelihood of developing diabetes, heart disease, and cancer." Experts recommend consuming at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day.
"Staying well-hydrated does so many good things for your system," says Rall. "It boosts your metabolism, helps your body eliminate waste products, helps effectively regulate your body temperature and can even help with joint pain by providing extra lubrication for your joints." She advises keeping water close at hand and sipping throughout the day. According to Harvard Medical School, most people need to drink four to six cups of plain water daily.
Studies have found that switching to the Mediterranean Diet—a plant-based eating regimen that emphasizes fruits and vegetables, healthy fats like salmon and olive oil, and whole grains, while restricting processed foods and refined grains—can lower your bad cholesterol, boost your good cholesterol, reduce inflammation and lower your risk of chronic disease soon after.
Studies suggest that regularly practicing gratitude—acknowledging what we have and are grateful for—can reduce stress, improve mood and sleep, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve relationships. What's the best way? Experts recommend doing a daily meditation practice that incorporates gratitude or writing a daily "gratitude list."
Experts recommend that you get only 10% of your daily calories from sugar, consuming less than 13.3 grams a day. "Excess sugar intake (more than 30 grams/day) can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease," says Dr. J.B. Kirby, a doctorate-prepared nurse practitioner. Excess sugar also impacts our brain's reward pathways causing us to crave more sugar." Cutting down on sugar can ease chronic inflammation, a risk factor for disease.
Regularly drinking excess amounts of alcohol can harm your health in myriad ways, from raising your risk of six types of cancer to boosting triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood), increasing bad cholesterol and lowering good cholesterol. To protect your health, drink only in moderation, meaning no more than two drinks daily for men, or one drink daily for women. And experts say quitting alcohol altogether can improve your liver health, digestion, sleep, and weight in a matter of weeks.
"Any exercise is better than none," says Kirby. "Aim for 30 minutes a day. This can be broken down into three 10-minute sessions, and you'll decrease your risk of over 30 common chronic conditions such as breast cancer, high cholesterol, bone fractures, heart disease, erectile dysfunction, depression and anxiety—just to name a few."